Fantastic video of an attempt made in 2008 by Swedish extreme skier Fredrik Ericsson and Norwegian Jörgen Aamot to ski down the world’s third highest mountain: Kangchenjunga (8586m) in Nepal:
Fredrik “Frippe” Ericsson was born in Umea, but spent most of his life in Chamonix in the French Alps. His dream ws to become the first person to ski down the 3 highest mountains in the world: Everest, K2 and Kangchenjunga.
During the summer of 2003 Ericsson climbed and skied Ismoil Somoni Peak, the highest mountain in Tajikistan at 7,495 m (24,590 ft). In 2004 he became the first Swede to ski descend an 8000-m peak when he skied from the central summit of Shisha Pangma (8012m -26,289 ft). It is the 14th highest mountain in the world and the lowest of the eight-thousanders. It is entirely within Tibet and a few kilometres from the border with Nepal.
In 2005, he and his Norwegian friend, Jörgen Aamot, attempted to scale and ski from the summit the coveted Laila Peak (6069m) in Pakistan, but bad conditions and ice forced them to turn around at 5,950m. They did, however, ski down from that level to the Gondogoro Glacier at 4,500m thereby becoming the first people to have skied down Laila. later in the year they successfully skied from the summit of Gasherbrum II also known as K4. It is the 13th highest mountain in the world at 8,035m (26,362 ft), Ericsson’s second 8,000-metre peak.
Ericsson returned to the Himalayas in 2007 to attempt his third 8,000er, Dhaulagiri (8,167m) in Nepal. Massive amounts of snow and dangerous conditions forced him to turn around at 8,000 metres, from where he skied 3,000 vertical meters down to base camp.
In 2009 he was at it again. This time, alongside his close friend and Italian ski mountaineer Michele Fait, their gaol was to ski “the mountain of our dreams – K2”. But K2, the most savage peak on earth, struck first. Ericsson watched as Fait fell backwards while jump-turning during an acclimatization ski descent from 6,340m (20,800 ft) and tumble thousands of feet to his death. For Ericsson it was “the worst day of my life.”
However, indomitable as he was, in 2010 he was back for another attempt, this time with American Trey Cook.“We both believe there is a line that can be completely skied from top to bottom, without any rappels or down climbing,” Cook wrote. “Others say this is impossible but we think it can be done.” They spent a month working on the route down the Cesen line.
Before the final ascent, Fredrik got to ski on the mountain from The Shoulder at 8000m to below Camp 3 at 7100m. “Simply putting your boots on at this altitude makes you gasp for air and making two or three turns with a heavy pack would bring most hardcores to tears. I’m here to tell you that after three long, hard days of climbing Fredrik Ericsson earned every one of those awe-inspiring turns,” said Trey.
But K2, that fearsome mountain, struck again. David Schipper, a Utah climber who attempted K2 in 2007, reported that “Fredrik was fixing rope to the rock in the bottle neck above Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner when he lost purchase and was unable to arrest his fall. This happened some time between 7 and 8 AM. Later it was determined he fell about 1000m and did not survive.”
To retrieve Fredrik’s body would have been exceptionally dangerous, and his parents advised his climbing partners against any attempt. It was agreed that where he lay, at about 7,000m, was a fitting memorial to his life. He would have appreciated being left in view of some of his favourite mountains.
In a moving tribute to Ericsson, Ralf Dujmovits wrote about their friend and climbing partner later from Base Camp: “Now, the only thing left for us to do is say goodbye to an amazing person. Fredrik Ericsson was not only one of the strongest climbers here at Base Camp, he was also one of the most popular climbers. Like nobody else, he was always in a good mood, showed a lot of optimism and had infected us with his love for the mountains and extreme skiing.”
K2 is a legendary brute. 299 people have successfully summited K2, 78 have died in the attempt. Those are not good odds.
Fredrik Ericcson died doing what he loved best, skiing extreme down his beloved mountains. He was 35 years old.